Users as Muse. Exploring Participatory Models for Platform Modemuze.

Lisa Whittle, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam/Modemuze, The Netherlands

Modemuze is a platform for fashion and costume initiated by seven Dutch museums. As textile and clothing are often only exhibited for short periods of time, due to their fragility, the majority of these collections remains invisible to a large fashion and costume loving audience. By making these collections accessible online together, the clothing and accessories will not only become permanently available through the screen, but new possibilities for using these collections also arise, especially when imagining new contexts they acquire with use outside the museum’s professional atmosphere. In theory, including external voices on the platform could mean that new relationships between the existing collections are made and that public visions, interests, and even new collections can be added. Going digital can open doors for exciting and new forms for audience participation, but it also raises new questions and those are at least as much concerned with a softer side of participation, as it is also believed that technology is not inherently participatory.
In collaboration with VU University Amsterdam, Modemuze researches the practical employment of audience participation for the platform, in order to cultivate a relationship of meaningful exchange of knowledge. A study is performed amongst three special interest groups, (young) designers, re-enactors and avid collectors that possess their own expertise within fashion and costume and are involved in the process of developing the platform’s website.